Your little one has the most beautiful smile in the entire world, and as a parent, you want to do everything you can to help that adorable smile grow into a healthy one, as well. Losing your baby teeth is an inevitable fact of life for children, but sometimes your child’s primary tooth may become dislodged prematurely. While gaps and spaces in your child’s smile may seem cute, they can lead to a variety of complications later on in life. When we here at First Impressions Orthodontics for Children & Adults meet with your son or daughter and observe that they have missing teeth, we may advise space maintainers to help prevent these problems from occurring.
What are Space Maintainers and Why are They Important?
Your child’s baby teeth – also known as their primary teeth – start to erupt (come in) in the first few months of their life. By the time they are six months old, the first signs of their teeth are making their appearances, though sometimes these primary teeth will not show up until 14 months of age.
Over the next couple of years, more and more teeth will show up, and your child should have a mouth full of their teeth by the time they are three years old. These teeth will stick around for a few more years, and around the age six or seven, they will start to notice that these baby teeth are starting to fall out naturally to make way for their adult – or permanent – teeth.
Sometimes, however, your child’s primary tooth will become dislodged prematurely. When this happens, your child can become at risk for problems from losing that tooth. The reality is that tooth loss is not just about putting a cute little gap in your kid’s smile.
Tooth loss can be quite problematic, leading to shifting and drifting of the remaining teeth. If another tooth moves into that opening left behind by another tooth, that can prevent a permanent tooth from successfully erupting when your child is over. To prevent this, we often fit our young patients with an oral device known as a space maintainers.
Space maintainers help prevent your child’s remaining teeth from migrating to that opening where the other tooth was. There are many different types of space maintainers that we like to use at our office, but they include both removable and fixed appliances. Removable space maintainers are often made out of acrylic and may even have a prosthetic tooth attached to it. Removable space maintainers are better for older children who can better take care of it.
Fixed space maintainers cannot be removed for cleaning and are attached with dental cement to the surrounding teeth. The four most common types include lingual space maintainers (best when your child is missing more than one tooth), distal shoe space maintainer (for first molars that still need to break through the gumline), the lingual holding arch (for the bottom back teeth), and the band-and-loop device (for the loss of multiple back molars to help encourage the eruption of permanent teeth).
Want To Know More?
If your little one has lost a tooth, it is important that you give us a call here at First Impressions Orthodontics for Children & Adults at (203) 292-9595 today to learn more about how space maintainers can help them have a happy and smile when they are finally an adult!